DEMOGRAPHIC, GENERAL, AND JUVENILE CRIME TRENDS IN KENYA
As of 2015, Kenya’s population was estimated at 46 million people (United Nations et al. 2015). The country’s population, as with most of Africa, is especially young. Kenya’s population median age as of 2015 was 18.9 years (compared to a median age of over 40 years in some of the European countries, for example, France and Germany). The age group 0-14 years comprised 41.9 % of the population. Persons aged 18 years and below constituted well over half of the population. The number of crimes reported by the public to the police was on the rise in the period 2010-2014 but stayed steady in 2013 and 2014 at an approximate 70,000 cases in each of the 2 years (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics 2015). Cases of homicide, 67.5 % of which are murder cases, constituted a small percentage of the overall reported cases (3.8 % in 2013, 4 % in 2015), as with sexual and related offenses “against morality” (6.6 % in 2013; 7 % in 2014). A majority of reported cases were characterized as “other offenses against persons” including assault, affray (scuffle) (26.9 % of such cases in 2013, 28.7 % in 2014). Cases of stealing, theft (of property, livestock, property), robbery, and break-ins collectively comprised 38.6 % of all reported cases in 2013 and 34.7 % in 2014.
A total of 109,629 people were sentenced to prison in 2014—a 41.6 % increase between 2010 and 2014. Prison inmates aged 26 years and above constituted about half of the total prison population. The number of inmates below 18 years was recorded at 2570 in 2013 and 3455 in 2014 (1.1 % of the total prison population in 2013; 1.4 % in 2014). The government has previously stated that the majority of children formally found guilty of crimes that would warrant a prison term (if committed by adults) are in the 16-17 year age bracket. This is borne out by the data in the 2014 government survey which indicates that compared to the low numbers of children aged 16 and below in prison, thousands of 16-17 year olds were convicted and given prison sentences in the years 2009-2014. The numbers for prison term for children hold despite the prohibition under the Children’s Act of imprisonment as a punishment measure for children (as discussed later in this chapter). Even with the low numbers of very young children (aged 16 years and below) in prison, Kenya’s overall prison inmate population is young. As of 2014, 52.3 % of the total prison population was composed of youth aged 25 years and below.
Causes of Juvenile Crime (Pretty Short)
The situation in Kenya is characterized by high rates of poverty, unemployment, and an increasing number of family and kinship structures under severe socioeconomic difficulties. Hence, poverty is a major factor accounting for the vulnerability of the Kenyan youth to commit crimes. In addition, there are questions of the effectiveness of Kenya’s criminal justice system in achieving its broad goals of deterrence and the rehabilitation of offenders. A previous government survey has attributed a 76.9 % general increase in the number of recidivist offenders between 2012 and 2013 to the fact of “inadequate facilities and rehabilitation programs in prisons, coupled with social stigma that ex-convicts experience from their communities upon release” (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics 2015: 252).